A couple of days before my birthday, my nine year old wadded up her hard-earned cash, all three dollars of it, and convinced her father to take her to the Dollar Tree, so she could buy me a present. I’m a big fan of the Dollar Tree, so I knew the possibilities were good. I expected a pretty new pen or maybe brightly patterned make-up bag.
Several days later I opened up a tissue-paper filled bag and Kaeley’s face beamed proudly as I lifted out an… empty spray bottle.
When I later called my husband to ask, “Why?” (which, by the way, don’t do, because you end up sounding like a spoiled brat and lose a lot of points with your husband) he explained the thought behind the bottle.
I love going to a farm up in Ontario and, as we learned last summer, it gets super hot in Ontario! While weeding out beds of tomatoes I would drench us all in water and encourage water gun fights. So after scouring the store and finding a few possibilities Kaeley finally decided on this water bottle.
It wasn’t something I thought I had wanted. It still isn’t a present I necessarily use. However, looking back, it was Kaeley’s heart that was the true present to me that day. A little girl analyzing the needs and joys of her mother while choosing a gift accordingly and sacrificing her own desires to meet mine. It was her heart, unwrapped and real, that was the gift. She had given me herself.
I think of how many times God has given me gifts I wasn’t quite expecting. There was a time I really wanted Him to overhaul my heart and do it fast! I would stare at my seemingly empty hands and in deep frustration I would ask, “Why, God?”
My family has unwrapped the gift of life twice only to have it seemingly yanked out of our hands as the life was lost. And I was again left with seemingly empty hands crying, “Why?”
A World once begging for a king to save them from the physical pain and oppression would unwrap the gift of a dirty manger filled with flawed individuals bringing forth the Divine Baby. Can you picture their faces as they looked under the hay and maybe behind a stall or two before they looked at the Baby and asked, “What? Why did You send us him?”
Years later, their money was still being stolen by tax collectors and they still had no home of their own and they were still experiencing death and disappointment and oppression, and they unwrapped the Cross. How many, I wonder, did not look behind the wooden cross and maybe under the bloodied crown of thorns as He breathed forgiveness. And they asked still, “I don’t get it. Where is the king I asked for?”
How many gifts have I received from the Divine Giver that I opened with a look of, “I don’t get it?”
Sometimes the gifts that are wrapped in Earthly realness and pain and disappointment are those that, once fully unwrapped, are found to be holding the Giver of Life Himself.
How else would I have learned of God’s steadfastness and faithfulness had I not been given time to wait? How would I have known His deep love for me had I not experienced pits of want and loss and bitterness?
How, but that He had gave packages fuller still and in need of long unwrapping and expectation?
This Christmas, we unwrap another year of waiting for His return. Maybe, for some of us, it’s another year of waiting for change or provision or something… anything.
What some of us need to realize is we’re not waiting empty handed. We’re just still unwrapping the gift Himself.